Bishop’s Lawn and Borders

No. 2 on the Map:

The Bishop’s Lawn and Borders

To the west of the Bishop’s Garden is a walled area of the grounds centered on a large lawn. The Bishop’s Lawn is bordered by trees and shrubs including hollies, autumn blooming cherry, hydrangeas, sasanqua camellias, azaleas, and boxwood. Shade-loving perennials here include hellebores, tricyrtis, Solomon’s seal, and brunnera. 

The Bishop’s Lawn can be entered through the Norman Court, from the steps adjacent to Shadow House, or from Lych Gate Road through the Postern Gate.

Shadow House sits at the southeast corner of the Bishop’s Lawn

Church House is on the north side of the Bishop’s Lawn. This manor house served was the residence of the Bishop of Washington from 1916 to the 1960’s. It is now the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and contains offices, meeting rooms and the Bishop’s Chapel. The Bishop’s Garden and Lawn were reserved for the private use of the Bishop until 1928.

Steps on the back of Church House with wisteria blooming in spring

Between Church House and the Bishop’s Lawn Postern Gate stands a bronze font with a basin supported by three figures. Mr. and Mrs. Larz Anderson donated the font to the garden in memory of Elsie Anderson McMillan – Mr. Anderson’s sister. In a 1937 letter to Bishop Freeman, Mrs. Anderson wrote: “It is good Gothic with modeled heads on its basin supported by figures of Prudence and Chastity, not Romish and so suitable for a Protestant chapel – of fine ringing-bell bronze.” The font originally stood in a private chapel near Ferrara, Italy.

Flanking the Postern Gate is a border dedicated in 2005 in honor of Marjorie Hazard Edwards. The border is planted with camellias, hollies and shade perennials.

The LeCompte Garden viewed from the Lawn

The LeCompte Garden faces the lawn south of the Postern Gate. This garden was installed in 2015 in memory of Rowan LeCompte, whose stained-glass artistry fills the cathedral, including 18 clerestory windows and the great Creation rose window on the west front. The memorial bench is sited to have a view of the clerestory windows and the colors of the garden’s blooms represent colors found in the stained glass. 

At the top of the south wall of the Bishop’s Lawn is a plaque, made of Indiana limestone, dedicated in 1944 to Bishop James C. Freeman. The plaque was donated by All Hallows Guild, but the azalea bed no longer exists.

The plaque is inscribed: An Azalea Bed – Planted A.D. 1943 – By All Hallows Guild – In Memory of – James E. Freeman, D.D., LL.D., D.C.L. – Third Bishop of Washington

The Bishop’s Lawn – Church House is to the right

Continuing along the wall that borders the South side of the Bishop’s Lawn, near Shadow House, is a plaque dedicated to Bishop Harding. The plaque, made of Indiana limestone, was donated by All Hallows Guild and dedicated in 1924. The ancient boxwood referenced in the inscription longer exists.

The plaque is inscribed: An Ancient Boxwood North of This – Place Was Planted A.D. 1924 By – All Hallows Guild In Memory Of – Alfred Harding D.D., LL.D. – Second Bishop of Washington

A memorial bench, with crepe myrtle in bloom behind, faces the Bishop’s Lawn near Shadow House

The garden gazebo, known as Shadow House, anchors the southeast corner of the Bishop’s Lawn. A pedestal holding a bronze statue of baby Pan and his flute faces the lawn just outside the entrance to Shadow House.

The planting bed on the east end of the Bishop’s Lawn is anchored by Shadow House and the Blue Atlas Cedar trees that flank the medieval arch of the Norman Court.

Shadow House and the Blue Atlas Cedar

In the planting bed, just to the north of Shadow House, is a bronze plaque and a tree dedicated to The Right Rev. John Bryson Chane. Bishop Chane was installed as the eighth Bishop of Washington on June 1, 2002, at Washington National Cathedral. He retired in November 2011.


The Bishop’s Lawn in Autumn viewed from the steps leading to the Bishop’s Garden

Leaving the Bishop’s Lawn, cross Pilgrim Road, where an equestrian statue of George Washington sits below the Pilgrim Steps.

Help Us Keep The Gardens Growing

Partner with us to ensure that the 57 acres of gardens and grounds surrounding Washington National Cathedral continue to be a haven of peace and refreshment in the midst of the Nation’s Capital.


All Hallows Guild was founded in 1916 to provide for the care and beautification of the grounds of Washington National Cathedral. The Guild works closely with the horticultural staff to preserve this historic landscape and raises funds for renovation and renewal of the gardens.


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